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Anosognosia is a disease that prevents, for example, a person with Alzheimer’s disease from recognizing his disease even though the symptoms are undeniable. To distinguish it from disease denial, this disorder is the result of brain injury.
what is anosognosia?
Medical professionals diagnose anosognosia when a patient does not recognize his or her disease. This self-image disorder can occur in patients with Alzheimer’s disease, a neurodegenerative disorder, or hemiplegia, a particular form of paralysis that affects either the left or right side of the body.
Anosognosia can be thought of as denial of the disease. However, these two phenomena must be distinguished. Characterized by a denial of reality, denial is a psychological defense process. Anosognosia, on the other hand, is a neuropsychological disorder caused by a brain lesion.
In neurology, anosognosia is sometimes considered one of the signs of frontal lobe syndrome. Anosognosia is a set of symptoms that result from a lesion or dysfunction of the frontal lobe. In frontal lobe syndrome, anosognosia may be associated with other neurological disorders, including behavioral and cognitive disorders.
What causes anosognosia?
Anosognosia is the result of a lesion in the brain. Although the exact location of the lesion has not yet been fully identified, it appears that anosognosia is the result of a lesion in the right hemisphere of the brain.
According to the current state of science, the lesion that causes anosognosia may have several possible causes. It may be the result of:
- A stroke, also known as cerebral infarction, is a disturbance in blood flow to the brain that can lead to the death of nerve cells.
- Alzheimer’s disease, a disease of the brain called neurodegenerative because it results in the progressive disappearance of neurons and is manifested by a decline in cognitive function.
- Korsakoff syndrome or Korsakoff dementia, a neurological disorder usually due to a deficiency of vitamin B1 (thiamine).
- Head trauma, a blow to the skull that can cause brain damage.
According to the NIH 40% of patients with bipolar disorder and 50% of patients with schizophrenia suffer from anosognosia.
what are the consequences of anosognosia?
The consequences and evolution of anosognosia depend on many factors, including the extent and origin of brain damage. Depending on the case, it is possible to distinguish:
- Mild anosognosia, in which the patient mentions his disease only after specific questions on the subject.
- Moderate anosognosia, in which the patient recognizes his disease only after seeing the results of a medical examination.
- Severe anosognosia, in which the patient is not aware of his disease even after detailed questioning and medical examination.
What are the treatment options for anosognosia?
The treatment of anosognosia aims to:
- Treat the cause of the brain damage
- Limit the risk of complications
- Accompany the patient in their treatment
Although the choice of treatment depends on the exact cause, it is generally accompanied by rehabilitation to help the patient become more aware of his disease. This awareness makes it easier for medical professionals to manage the disease.